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India riled by guru's 'eight-hour detention' at Heathrow

A spiritual leader's "eight-hour detention" at Heathrow Airport yesterday is getting extensive coverage in the press of his native India.

Swami Ramdevji, aka Baba Ramdev, in 2010
Swami Ramdevji, aka Baba Ramdev, in 2010

Swami Ramdevji, also known as Baba Ramdev, had been due to lead 1,500-strong yoga class but was stopped by UK border authorities for reasons that remain unclear.

Zee news cites Mr Ramdevji himself as saying that British border authorities "may have been misguided by the Indian government," and that he believes there was a "red alert" against his name.

India Today reports that a senior Indian politician, who happened to be in London at the time, appealed to the Indian embassy to help resolve the situation.

The Times of India reports that Mr Ramdevji was given no explanation for being stopped.

Read more on the ITV London website

Inspector: 'Backlog of 40,000' asylum cases in the UK

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, has told Daybreak that the UK has a backlog of around 40,000 asylum cases which need to be addressed.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine Credit: Daybreak

He said: "The Police National Computer was used by the [Border] Agency to find people of high harm, but was it wasn't used for was to try and trace and locate these people and that was the whole purpose of the exercise."

He added: "Remember way back in 2006, the then Home Secretary said all this backlog of cases needed to be completed by the summer of 2011, and here we are two years later and we still have a huge backlog of cases."

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Information in 'paper files not used to trace applicants'

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has raised concerns over the handling of legacy asylum and migration cases by the former UK Border Agency.

A report found that:

  • There were some cases where the information contained in paper files was not being used to trace applicants
  • Ministers were not informed that the proposed closure criteria used for legacy cases did not include the risks associated with not examining paper files
  • The Agency had not reviewed Police National Computer (PNC) information, to obtain addresses for 3,077 positive matches, or to take action in relation to maybe matches
  • Work had not yet commenced on archived cases and active reviews that had been reopened as a result or positive data matching results

Inspector: Home Office must prioritise asylum cases

A follow-up investigation, after a report released in November last year, has shown a number of concerns with regards to UK border control.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine, who ordered the report, said there were some cases where information contained in paper files was not being used to trace applicants.

He added that work had not yet commenced on archived cases and active reviews that had been reopened as a result or positive data matching results.

I believe the Home Office needs to demonstrate to applicants, Parliament and the public that it has taken all reasonable action to identify whether individuals remain in the UK illegally.

While action had been taken to reopen archived cases following positive data matching results, I was concerned that no work had actually started on them. This was also true of active reviews.

The Home Office will now need to ensure that these cases are afforded priority and publish a realistic and achievable timescale for the completion of all legacy asylum and migration cases.

– John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

Border officials 'failed to pursue 3,000 asylum leads'

UK border officials failed to pursue more than 3,000 leads on missing asylum seekers, an inspector has found.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine said no action was taken by the now defunct UK Border Agency (UKBA) to locate positive hits, which were returned when matching asylum seeker details on the Police National Computer (PNC).

UK border officials failed to pursue more than 3,000 leads on missing asylum seekers Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Border staff said a decision was taken not to write to applicants in relation to PNC checks because the information was deemed unreliable.

The inspector added that he was "not provided with any rationale to support this view".

He said that if the PNC checks been followed up, it might have resulted in new information coming to light that would have helped the UKBA to locate individuals.

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Govt urged to build 'fair, humane, effective' system

The chief executive of Refugee Council, a charity which works with refugees and asylum seekers, said:

While the political parties continue to argue over who is responsible for the chaos at the UKBA, there is little discussion of the people who have been waiting for months or years for a decision on their cases, with their lives on hold.

We would urge the Government to focus their attentions on building a fair, humane and effective asylum system, with the protection of people fleeing persecution at its centre.

– Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren

Home Secretary has 'done the right thing '

Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz MP. Credit: PA Wire

After the announcement, Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz MP said: "The Home Secretary has done the right thing in putting the UK Backlog Agency out of its misery.

"As yesterday's Home Affairs Committee report shows, the organisation is not fit for purpose.

"However, this cannot be an excuse not to clear the backlogs, which stand at a third of a million cases.

"Ministers are now on the front line.

"Proper accountability and scrutiny of our immigration system must continue, and it will need effective and strong leadership if the Home Office is serious about having a fully functional immigration system."

New immigration entities 'will not have agency status'

Home Secretary Theresa May said after the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is split up, the new entities will not have "agency" status and will therefore sit in the Home Office and reporting to ministers.

Tthe performance of what remains of UKBA is still not good enough.

The agency struggles with the volume of its casework, which has led to historical backlogs running into the hundreds of thousands.

The number of illegal immigrants removed does not keep up with the number of people who are here illegally.

And while the visa operation is internationally competitive, it could and should get better still.

– Home Secretary Theresa May

UK Border Agency announcement follows criticism

The Home Secretary's announcement that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will be split comes after the Home Affairs Select Committee warned that it would take the agency 24 years to clear a backlog of asylum and immigration cases.

The committee also launched a scathing attack on former UKBA chief Lin Homer, now the head of Britain's tax office, for her "catastrophic leadership failure" when she was in charge of the country's border controls.

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